L.A. Collegian Artist Spotlight
Featuring Timothy Bluitt on ROCKIN’ GRRRL.
BY VALENTINA YANEZ
Many have admired his art, including actor Marlon Brando.Born in Dallas, TX, Timothy Bluitt is now an art student at L.A. City College. Bluitt moved to California in the late 1960s. Here is where he first had the opportunity to showcase his art. Because of a particular event at an art show, Bluitt decided to commit more of his time to painting. Since then, he has used various art media, such as sketching and oil painting. He recently decided to go back to school to brush up on his art skills. Drawing upon the memories of people he knew while growing up as an inspiration for his life and art, Bluitt hopes his paintings will inspire others, especially at-risk youth.
Collegian: Can you tell us a little about your background?
Bluitt: I was born in Dallas, Texas. I joined the Marines in 1966, fresh out of high school. My father told me he had done all he could do for me and that I had to go out into the world and find my own way. I came home and told him I was going to the Marines and he had a little bit of a change of heart, because the war in Vietnam was going on. I told him that I’d be leaving for California during the summer to join the Marines. So, that was my departure from Dallas.
Collegian: What did you do in California?
Bluitt: “I did four years in the Marines. During my time in the Marine Corps I went to Vietnam. I was in the field go- ing on combat missions. I got out of the Marines with an Honorable Discharge in 1970. I went to college up in the Bay Area. From college I came out in 1974. I went to work for Revlon initially. Basically, I worked for corporate America for a period of time. After that, I went over to the financial industry. I mostly involved my life in sales.”
Collegian: Have you always been interested in creating art?
Bluitt: “I always had a knack for draw- ing as a small child. Eventually, I got into painting when I was in my 20s. In my mid- 30s, I started oil painting.”
Collegian: What inspired you to start again?
Bluitt: “A friend of mine that I’d been in the Marines with, I’d met him up in Oakland. Again, I saw him and he encouraged me to start painting again.”
Collegian: Did a particular event influ- ence your decision to start painting again? Bluitt: “I had done a series of paintings andhetoldmehewasgoingtodoanart show. And he asked me, ‘Why don’t you enter the show with me?’ I told him I didn’t think anyone was going to be interested in buying anything I’ve got. He told me, ‘You never know.’ I put together a number of pieces. One of the pieces I had was a por- trait I had done of James Baldwin. Marlon Brando walks through and he stops. And I’m impressed that he would stop and look at anything I’d done. He says ‘How much for this piece here?’ He was talking about the James Baldwin piece and I said to him, ‘$600.’ He says, ‘Will you take cash?’ I said that I will take anything he can give me. [His assistant] gave me six crisp $100 bills. My head was still in the clouds. I told my friend that Marlon Brando just bought James Baldwin from me. And he says, ‘See I told you.’ This man had encouraged me to go to this show and he had given me the confidence to go farther. And so basically, that was the re-launching of my interest in doing art and also, in taking it out for the
world to see.”
Collegian: What happened after that?
Bluitt: “Years later, I would mostly spend my time doing sketches. And then I decided, when I retired from the finan- cial industry, that I would get back to painting. But also, I decided that I would sharpen my skills by taking classes. I decided to sign up for class there [LACC].
I have been taking painting classes and a drawing class from Alexandra Wiesenfeld. I have learned an awful lot from her. That’s basically where I am at right now.”
Collegian: We are featuring one of your pieces, do you have a name for it?
Bluitt: “I call it the “Tree of Destiny.”
Collegian: What inspired it? Is there a story behind it?
Bluitt: “It’s in relation to the surround- ings that I come from. I grew up with kids that, some as adults and some of them as kids actually, basically went in the wrong direction in life. They yielded to the street life. They didn’t really focus on education. They were misguided. And the ones at the top, individuals who took education seriously and they directed to more pos- itive things. The individual with the tro- phy raised over his head is me, because I won a trophy for top sales in the financial industry for the company I was working for. The other two individuals, they’re in- dividuals who did something with their lives also. The individual at the bottom, he represents people that I know, who went to prison. That’s what the tree represents.”
Collegian: Do you hope that sharing your stories and art can inspire others as well?
Bluitt: “I hope so. I have a couple of in- dividuals that I’ve talked with. It’s mostly African American and Latinos that I want to really reach. I look at them and I see that there’s more opportunity available to them and they’re just not aware of it. The way I look at it, I have a responsibility to try to do something for the youth that I can help and that will listen to me. Everyone won’t listen to me, but some of them did. I knew a guy that he ended up going to the military. He was a gangbanger. I was able to direct him to a family that took him in. He learned Arabic fluently and married a Moroccan woman. He be- came Muslim.
Some will listen and some won’t. But those that I can save though, I owe it to them. I owe it to these individuals who gave me some direction and basically frightened me straight. They said, ‘If you do what’s right, we’ll look out for you, but if not, we’re going to get rough with you.’ They told me, ‘Your father is right, stay away from people like us.’ That’s the message I have for you. I see that a lot of these young people are very talented, very intelligent, but their talent and intelligence is just misdirected. It’s just a matter of giving them an alternative to what they’re doing. That’s what I want to do with my art. I want to let them know that they can do this too.”
TIMOTHY BLUITT featured on ROCKIN’ GRRRL
Originally featured on page 5 and 6 of the Arts and Entertainment of the Collegian Wired.